Scenes From A Sunday Afternoon


Grackles

It’s been a week since a flock of grackles descended in the trees around my home and unleashed a hailstorm of acorns.  I have since learned that acorns are one of the species’ culinary favorites, especially as the iridescent birds begin their migration south.

That being said, they aren’t very neat or efficient eaters.  In fact, I don’t think the ’80s band A Flock of Seagulls could have caused this much of a mess in their hotel room, not even during the height of their popularity.

Seven days since their arrival — that’s seven days filled with more grackles, squirrels, and wind — the driveway and path looked as if they were the end-result of some slapstick comedy routine — you know, the one where an innocent passerby (me, for example) slips on some casually placed marbles (or acorns, as the case may be), so that the prankster (or grackle) can have a few laughs.

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To Blow Or To Suck, That Is The Question


Of course, I’m referring to leaves — what on earth were you thinking — because my yard is, once again, overrun with leaves — which is strange, since I have very vivid memories of autumn weekends with a rake.  I’m positive I raked this yard a few months ago.  In fact, I’ve written extensively about my love of raking, and the peace and nostalgia that this chore delivers.

Blower/Vac

But as I look out at a yard buried under as many leaves as I raked in the fall, I have decided that I am not a fan of spring raking.  It’s bothersome and it gets in the way of what I really want to do, which is prepare the beds for actual gardening — not this maintenance stuff.  I’ve waited through all of winter for this first warmish weekend to work outside — and raking is not on my list of things to do.

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What Not To Tell The Kids


I’m the first to admit it.  There’s a lot about gardening that I don’t know – so much so that I can’t even pretend.  What I do know, I have been able to gather from books, conversations, television shows, and, now, from fellow garden bloggers and reader comments.

None of this, though, is enough to stop me from the seasonal shake of my head when I pass some gardens and non-gardens and wonder, “What were they thinking — or not thinking, as the case may be?”  And once that ball gets rolling, my list of garden pet peeves gets longer and I can’t help but imagine the conversations that might be happening.

“Mommy, where does mulch come from?”

“Well, dear, deep in the center of the earth there is a hot core of molten mulch.  And each spring, as the air gets warmer, the molten mulch moves toward the surface – usually around the base of trees because their roots have punctured the mulch bubble.  Then, mulch pours from the ground around the tree, piling up higher and higher as it cools.”

So that would explain it – because I can’t think of any other reason to explain the appearance of cone-shaped mulch volcanoes that pop up each spring on residential and commercial properties alike.

I have always been of the mindset that mulch is good.  It’s decorative and practical, as it helps to keep roots cool in summer and warm in winter, as well as limiting weed growth and aiding in the soil’s moisture retention – but too much of a good thing can be bad.  Mulch that is too deep can have a negative effect on a tree’s bark and root functioning, and, therefore, on its overall health. 

Grab your rakes, America.  It’s time to save countless gardens and yards from these devastating mulch flows.

“Daddy, where does seedless watermelon come from?”

“Well, honey, um. . . . .”

Exactly.

When did “seed” become an ugly word?  The seeds are part of the fun that comes from eating a watermelon – that’s why spitting was invented.  The rest of the fun comes from the rich color and the sweet juice that I remember dribbling down my chin and onto my t-shirt.

Seedless is even used as part of the advertisement.  It says, “See how convenient I am.  No seeds here to take up your time.”  Now we have a generation that actually thinks seedless is a good thing. 

Maybe it’s me.  Maybe I just haven’t been fortunate enough to actually eat a delicious seedless watermelon – and I’m done trying.  Each time I sample some, I feel as if something is missing – more than just seeds.  When I finish eating a slice and look at my seedless plate, I start missing the way watermelon used to be – and, for that matter, how so many other things used to be.

Yes, in our quest to go seedless, we have lost something.  Color.  Flavor.  And a childhood memory.

Where, oh where, has my watermelon gone?  Oh, where, oh where can it be?

“Mommy, why are our flowers melting?”

“Not now, sweetheart.  Just eat your seedless watermelon so we can go watch daddy and his mulch volcano.”

If I remember my high school biology, plastic is not organic and so it cannot reproduce – and yet, more and more plastic flowers are appearing in gardens, window boxes, and flower pot displays.  Even the anole in the above photo looks perplexed — or at least as perplexed as an anole can look.  In fact, I have even turned it into a bit of a game – I spy. . . plastic tulips in the privet hedge.

Is there ever a good excuse for using plastic flowers in the landscape?  Maybe it has to do with conserving water – you know, using plastic for greener living.  Or, maybe it has to do with finding the perfect flower strong enough to withstand summer’s heat and/or winter’s cold – but at some point, even plastic daffodils need a rest. 

My fellow gardeners, we must put a stop to these plastic pushers.  If not, I fear we are witnessing the dawn of a new invasive species – one that cannot be composted away. 

And now that I’ve gotten all this off my chest, I’m gazing upon a fourth peeve: the naked yard.  One of my neighbors has nothing planted , and I can only imagine how they explain that to the kids.  Hmmmm.

Bloomin’ Update 31: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly


Before I get into this post, I wanted to send out a special thanks to those of you who took the time to add a caption to the previous post.  Your creativity and humor were  wonderful treats after I arrived home and logged in to catch up on blog duty.  I’m still smiling and LOL-ing!

I’m not a fan of the Western.  I have always found the film genre too gritty, too violent, and too filled with underhanded, unsavory characters.  I like comedy, drama, melodrama, a soundtrack, and always a happy ending.

But when Joe and I arrived home at 3:00 a.m. after a marathon drive from Fort Lauderdale, we entered the house as if we were a couple of sun-baked cattle rustlers in our own Western.  Unshaven.  Sweaty.  Delirious.  Exhausted.  Even our mouths were tired as we spoke to on another with jaws that were just shy of clenched.  Ironically, our newly repaired covered wagon — I mean the car — was in better shape than we were!  Any thoughts or worries about my garden would have to wait until daylight — or at least until I was prepared to see daylight.

The forecasters, however, had other ideas about daylight.  It seems that the next few days would be filled with heavy thunderstorms, strong winds, and possible hail.  What’s a gardener in search of a happy ending to do? 

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Bloomin’ Update 27: Let’s Go For A Walk


I read somewhere – and I apologize to whoever said it because I cannot credit you – it’s a shame that so many gardeners keep their gardens locked up in their backyards. How nice it would be if the garden could be in the front yard for everyone and anyone to enjoy as they walk by. 

That was my thought as Joe and I walked around the neighborhood on this first day of summer, strolling by our neighbors’ homes to get a peek and to be inspired by what was blooming.  This is what we found.

To start the walk, we had to pass our Lace Cap Hydrangea. The flowers remind me of speckled Easter eggs.

This would be a close-up of the “lace” in the Lace Cap.

Across the street, we spotted a small bouquet of Dianthus.

Just up the street, another neighbor had Daylilies blooming everywhere.

Another neighbor had cluster upon cluster of Roses spilling over a rock retaining wall.

I couldn’t resist a closer look at the ruffled petals.

This Daylily seemed to scream, “Look into my eye.” So I did.

Around the corner, there were beds of Astilbe in full bloom.

Up close, the pink clouds reminded me of cotton candy.

Around another corner, we discovered a bed of Yarrow growing around a curbside mailbox.

Imagine our surprise when we spotted a bed of Cactus — in flower — a few houses away. The owner, Helen, came running out and offered us a clipping, and then showed us the rest of her front yard garden. We made a promise to return again for a tour of the backyard — a new neighborly friend.

When we returned home, there was time to stop and smell the Lavender.

Happy Summer!

Bloomin’ Update 21: Down The Rabbit Hole


 

I was all set to do a before and after photo spread, starting off with white and colored eggs in the spirit of the Easter holiday, and then segue into a series of photos about my pre- and post-Spring clean-up.

Before: The implied knot garden.

My raking , though, became more of an excavation as I uncovered plants that I hadn’t seen in some time — and my imagination kicked in.  Suddenly, I was a space explorer hovering over an unchartered alien world, boldly going where no man had gone before.  Or, in keeping with the season, I was Alice down the rabbit hole — and the garden grew curiouser and curiouser.

An oasis of peony.

The Valley of Lily of the Valley.

A view of Hosta Heights.

The edge of the Great Boxwood Forest.

The Spiderwort Wood, or as the local tribes call it, Tradescantia.

The Great Desert was once a colorful jungle. What happened here?

The unfurling tendrils of the Ferocious Ferns are poised to snag an unsuspecting wanderer.

When I came to, I was back in my garden, rake in hand and surveying my work . . .

After: The implied knot garden.

. . . still unsure about where I had been.  But at least I have the photos to prove that it was a real place. 

Happy Passover.  Happy Easter.

Bloomin’ Update 17: Anticipation


One of my favorite Christmas carols is “In the Bleak Midwinter,” and my thought was to use it as the basis for a “Bloomin’ Update” post with photos of wintry scenes.  But this winter hasn’t been so bleak.  In fact, it feels more like mid-March than mid-winter.  Perhaps a more appropriate title should be “In the Balmy Midwinter.”

Holly berries.

Hardy Geranium

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